Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Texas thistle like fireworks

with 25 comments

This Texas thistle flower head (Cirsium texanum) seemed to me like fireworks.
The picture dates from June 14th in northwest Austin.


In my May 16th post about prairie resurgence I reported on a resurgence of racism in America. What made it particularly egregious was that the racism came from our government. A group of Midwestern farmers went to court and sued the federal government because, based solely on their race, they weren’t allowed to participate in a loan forgiveness program for farmers. Last week U.S. District Judge S. Thomas Anderson ruled that the United States Department of Agriculture should halt its distribution of funds through the program until the case is fully resolved. In his ruling, the judge wrote: “However important the goal of eliminating the vestiges of prior race discrimination, and it is important, the government’s efforts cannot withstand strict scrutiny. Therefore, Plaintiff has shown a likeliness of success on the merits at trial.” In other words, you can’t discriminate against people of a certain race now now just because people of another race got discriminated against in the past. Or, as an adage tells us, two wrongs don’t make a right.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 13, 2021 at 4:32 AM

25 Responses

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  1. Ooh, that’s exactly what it looks like!


    July 13, 2021 at 5:03 AM

  2. What a brilliant burst of flower power, I love this fancy floral explosion!

    Ms. Liz

    July 13, 2021 at 5:20 AM

    • “Flower power” takes me back to 1967. This must be another summer of love.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 13, 2021 at 5:32 AM

      • After your reply I checked the song about wearing “flowers in your hair”, I didn’t realise it came out in 1967 and I read, “Scott McKenzie song that became the anthem of the 1967 Summer of Love. The song came to symbolize the Hippie and flower power movements, and the City of San Francisco.” In 1968 my brother married and I (age 4) was flower girl with small pink material flowers in my hair, and I carried a small basket of flowers. The matron-of-honour and bridesmaid had similar blue flowers in their hair. Very flowery!

        Ms. Liz

        July 13, 2021 at 5:53 AM

        • What fond memories that wedding provides you. I imagine you and your family have plenty of photographs from that day. Having flowers at weddings was already an age-old tradition, so the 1967–68 zeitgeist must have fit right in.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 13, 2021 at 6:21 AM

  3. When either of us posts photos of basket-flowers, there’s usually someone who mentions their resemblance to thistles. Here, your thistle reminds me of the basket-flowers. In this photo, the disc florets look to me like ribbons.


    July 13, 2021 at 5:59 AM

    • One vernacular name for basket-flowers is “thornless thistle,” which implies that whoever coined the term was more familiar with thistles than with basket-flowers. As for the florets in a Texas thistle, read the first entry on p. 403 in Eason and you may be surprised.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 13, 2021 at 6:28 AM

      • You mean the height? I certainly don’t remember seeing any that reach six feet, but that’s another similarity to the basket-flowers. I finally found basket-flowers growing more than 6′ tall last weekend when I went down a local street I’ve never traveled to get around some construction. One home had a strip of basket-flowers probably 4′ x 20′ growing alongside their driveway. They were well past their prime, but I know where to start looking next year.


        July 13, 2021 at 6:42 AM

        • What I meant is that a Texas thistle has only disc florets and lacks ray florets, despite the appearance of having both kinds. The same is true for basket-flowers. To the riddle “when is a ray floret not a ray floret” we could answer “when it’s on a thistle or basket-flower.”

          Your fortuitous construction detour proved fortunate. Let’s hope those tall basket-flowers are still there for you next year.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 13, 2021 at 7:01 AM

  4. You always remind me of how beautiful a thistle can be. We’ve given up eradicating what I believe is musk thistle from the pecan orchard. We’ve knocked ourselves out for years digging them up (we don’t use chemicals), only to have neighboring properties let them multiply and go to seed, producing more for next year. Several thistle species are on the noxious weed list for Oklahoma, but I’m not sure the laws are enforced. Still, I do find beauty in the unusual flowers, and they must serve a purpose to insects because it is common to find them on the flower heads.


    July 13, 2021 at 7:10 AM

    • As you pointed out, all your efforts to eradicate musk thistle from your property are thwarted by seeds drifting in from neighboring properties. The other day you mentioned hedge parsley. In the spring of 2020 I found some growing in our back yard and did my best to weed it all. Alas, this year it came back. A couple of weeks after a first weeding, a second round came up. I weeded all of those that I could find. Still a few more came up, and I got rid of those, too, after which I saw no more. I’ll be vigilant again in 2022.

      Although I present only native plants in this blog, I appreciate, as you do, the intricacy of a non-native species like musk thistle. Thistles (and our pseudo-thistle, the basket-flower) make great photographic subjects. I’ve imagined traveling to places where those species are native so I can photograph them in their natural habitat.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 13, 2021 at 7:23 AM

  5. Oh wow! It does look like a firework!! Nicely done, Steve!


    July 13, 2021 at 8:10 AM

    • Thanks. Texas thistles have provided me with lots of good portraits over the years. This is the most fireworks-looking one I can remember.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 13, 2021 at 8:26 AM

  6. Beautiful flower photograph. And now nobody is going to get funds for a while “until the case is resolved.” For a farmer, rancher, season is everything. One crop season is already gone.

    Alessandra Chaves

    July 13, 2021 at 8:11 AM

    • Yes, all that the current administration needed to do is make the money available to farmers of all races. It can do that today and the injunction will be moot, but this administration won’t agree to stop discriminating by race. What a sad place our country has come to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 13, 2021 at 8:24 AM

  7. Your thistle’s message for peace and harmony in our beleaguered world is more powerful than any July Fourth fireworks can accomplish.

    Peter Klopp

    July 13, 2021 at 9:03 AM

  8. When I saw this in my reader feed, I thought it was indeed a firework until I looked more closely… 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    July 13, 2021 at 6:01 PM

  9. Definitely fireworks.

    Steve Gingold

    July 13, 2021 at 6:47 PM

  10. Delightful! Who needs fireworks when there are thistles ..


    July 19, 2021 at 2:16 PM

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